To my surprise, there's a missing question about this particularly interesting verb, dare. All I know about it is the fact it can be in two forms, as an auxiliary (without to: "I dare not mention their names") and main (with to: "Did anyone dare to admit it?") verb and the difference has something to do with agreeing with subject. Can somebody explain in a greater detail?

  • 'Did anyone dare admit it?' is also possible. – Barrie England Sep 26 '11 at 12:10
  • Oops. Had submitted an answer to this when half asleep that was completely wrong, as pointed out by @Matt. Duly deleted. And apologies for any confusion caused by my nonfunctioning brain. – user13141 Sep 26 '11 at 20:05
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Dare is a semi-modal verb. The speaker can choose whether to use the auxiliary "to" when forming negative and interrogative sentences. For example, "I don't dare (to) go" and "I dare not go" are both correct. Similarly "Dare you go?" and "Do you dare (to) go?" are both correct.

Taken from the Wiktionary.

Note that when dare means challenge, it requires to, as in:

I challenge you to ask her out.

I dare you to ask her out.

  • Yes, I think, that's a better example of the contrast between the semi-modal and lexical uses. – Barrie England Sep 26 '11 at 12:11
  • Uh… what would be wrong with 'I dare you: ask her out', please? – Robbie Goodwin Jan 12 '17 at 0:34

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